Friday, October 12, 2012

On Babywearing: A Papa's Perspective

This week is International Babywearing Week, and I'm honored to host this babywearing guest post from my very own partner in parenting and life: Jaymz.  
Jaymz has always been an (at least) equal babywearer in our family, and he's successfully completed more bedtimes (while wearing and bouncing Daniel) than either of us could count. He's always been confident to wear our kiddo anytime—even when the only carrier we remembered to throw in the car is one covered in flowers. I really appreciate him putting a voice here to his experience as a babywearing dad of a kid with some extra-special needs. 
Please read to the bottom to learn more about Jaymz.


I feel proud to be a babywearing advocate. It's not that I walk around preaching and passing out flyers or anything; all I really have to do is to wear my baby confidently wherever and whenever it's convenient to do so. At six-foot-five, I'm a pretty big dude, so I already kind of stick out in public places. Babywearing isn't all that common, especially for men (even here in Portland, where there is no shortage of baby boutiques or crunchy dads), and especially when I'm wearing one of our flowery, feathery, flowy wraps or slings that are oh-so-pretty. Can you imagine? Sometimes we get stares, but I don't even notice anymore. The more I act normal, the more normalizing it is for our environment. Daniel and I rock it out; we make a pretty good team.

It's much more than just convenience for Daniel and me, however. Our acutely-loved Ergobaby carrier is a huge part of our relationship and connection. This was especially true when he was smaller because I wore him on my body all the time. Daniel's sensory difficulties often explode him into a state of hyper-high energy which has the unfortunate effect of causing his entire world to become overstimulating and excruciating. As an infant, he cried for hours on end every single day. When I wear Daniel in a baby carrier, he is able to let all of the tense energy and intense emotion within his body melt away. He actually chills out, which is a polite suggestion Amy often offers to Daniel throughout their days together. Whenever it actually happens, it's a true blessing to all three of us in this family.

When we're out in a crowded public place, Daniel usually shuts down completely, ostensibly because intense reactions to every little bit of the world's sensory input quickly multiply into something entirely unbearable. Wearing Daniel on my body provides a safe place for him where, building off of the "chill out," he is actually able to experience the world in a meaningful way. Without the baby carrier, Daniel's tendency is to stay locked up in coping mode until we can remove him from whatever uncomfortable situation we're in. With the a baby carrier, Daniel will often talk to me about what he sees or what we are doing, and I can tell that he feels calm and comfortable enough to do so.

Until very recently, I put Daniel to sleep every night by wearing him in the Ergo and bouncing on a yoga ball until he passed out. At that point, I would gently unhook the carrier and transfer him into bed. Amy has had more luck with rocking him on a chair swaddled in a blanket, but the carrier and the bouncy ball was really the only reliable way that I could get him to go to sleep. This is probably the main reason that I consider the Ergo a huge part of my connection with Daniel. He feels safe against my body, and that's a direct result of our frequently-used, beloved parenting tool.


About today's guest writer, Jaymz:

Jaymz is a software engineer by day and attached papa by night. He strives to be a patient parent who practices empathy and understanding with this son Daniel. Jaymz believes that humans are human, no matter how old. 

Stay connected with Jaymz on Twitter.

6 comments:

  1. This is such a great post! My husband also wore our daughter a ton, sometimes for up to 2 naps a day. She probably also had sensory issues bc she was "colicky" until over 4 months, but even now at 4 years she is sensitive in similar ways. I bet other families with kids like these would benefit from this simple advice - wear your kids! So awesome when dads show (and tell) how easy and lovely and nurturing it is to wear their babes.
    -Dana

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    1. Thanks Dana! I think you're absolutely right - it's easy to see the benefits of baby wearing, and the benefits are magnified in kids who are so easily dysregulated.

      Our pediatrician told us that Daniel's colic would only last 2-3 months or so. He's now two and a half years old, and I still don't see any signs that his "colic" symptoms are going away...

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  2. What a great post! I'm in Portland too and my husband wears our kiddos just as often as I do. He's found it's a great way to bond with our girls and he loves sharing the benefits of it with other dads. Keep it up Jaymz!

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    1. Yes! If I ever catch your husband out-and-about, we'll have to be sure to share a high-five. ;-)

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  3. Wonderful post, Jaymz!

    I would imagine that Cam wore Bennett as much as I did during the first 18 months or so, and I think it played a huge part in their bonding. I love seeing baby-wearin papas out and about. :)

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